Written by Nic Fraraccio
As an avid sports fan, I do not like it when people ask me, “Why do you watch sports so much?” I think the answer to that is pretty obvious. Sports are one of my favorite escapes from the problems of this world.
However, there is one question I love to answer regarding my sports fandom: “Who is the greatest athlete you have ever met?” If you know me, this is one of my favorite stories to tell.
It was a gorgeous Monday morning on Dec. 1, 2014. My dad and I took a trip to Orlando, Florida, to watch the Hero World Challenge, a charity golf tournament featuring 20 top-ranked golf professionals. That year, Isleworth Golf and Country Club hosted the star-studded event.
I can promise you one thing — 11-year-old Nic was pumped to see some of his favorite golfers in action. Little did I know I would get the chance to talk to one of the greatest to play the game.
My dad and I arrived at the course at 7 a.m. Our plan was to watch some of the guys warm up on the driving range. The country club was located in a luxurious neighborhood with some of the most stunning houses I have ever seen.
To get to the range, my dad and I had to walk down the street, passing multi-million dollar houses with each step. When we were about 100 feet away from the range, a pink golf cart flew by us.
It was none other than two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson. My excitement level flew through the roof — I was about to watch Bubba destroy the ball on the range.
Even better, the range was almost desolate. There were a total of six people: myself, my dad, two cameramen, Bubba and his caddy.
Bubba was hitting bombs with his driver. It almost felt like I was getting a lesson with the little amount of attendance on the range.
All of a sudden, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It was my dad. He leaned over and said, “Look who it is.”
The first thing I saw when I turned around was a caddy wearing a red bib with a set of golf clubs by his side. My eyes lit up when I saw the tiger headcover on the driver.
Seconds later, Tiger Woods walked up to the range preparing to hit a couple shots before his practice round.
My dad and I proceeded to freak out for a couple of seconds before watching Tiger hit on the range.
For those of you who don’t watch sports, Tiger is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. With 82 all-time Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour victories, Tiger is tied with Sam Snead for the most wins in PGA Tour history.
This was a big deal for my dad and me. We love Tiger, and we were basically watching him stripe golf balls on the range with no other fans around.
When Tiger was beginning to wrap up his range session, my dad said, “You gotta ask him for a picture son. There is nothing to lose!”
As Tiger was walking off the range, I quickly asked, “May I please get a quick picture?”
He immediately responded, “Of course.” After taking the picture, I thought the interaction was over. Fortunately, I was wrong.
“Do you play golf?” Tiger said.
“Of course,” I said. “Been playing in Tampa for a couple years now.”
Tiger loved it. He started listing off courses he loved to play at in the Tampa Bay area. I knew every course like the back of my hand, I just wished I could play them with his skill level.
Before walking back to the clubhouse, Tiger turned around and said, “Maybe I’ll see you playing out here one day.”
An interaction I’ll never forget with one of the greats.